Career Management

A fear of public speaking is quite common, and at times people can find the phobia very debilitating. Unfortunately, there are many times throughout a person’s personal and professional life where speaking in public may be required or expected, and if the fear is great, it can affect performance.

Many people do their very best to avoid public speaking whenever possible, but this is not the best way to handle the situation, as it can impose limitations in your education or career and cost you memorable and rewarding opportunities throughout life. Instead, it is important to face your fears and anxieties head on, work through them, and empower yourself by becoming confident at speaking in public.

Symptoms:

The fear of public speaking is very real, and those who suffer from it experience physical and emotional symptoms. When somebody suffers from such a phobia it can make it virtually impossible to carry out tasks be it a job interview, toast at a wedding, a speech or presentation at work.

Symptoms can vary depending on the person but often includes sweating, increased heart rate, temporary spikes in blood pressure, anxiety about looking foolish or not performing well, and even a full blown panic attack in more extreme cases.

Looking at the symptoms above, it’s really no wonder that many people allow their fear of speaking in public to get the better of them. The effects on their wellbeing can be quite uncomfortable and hard to manage.

Overcoming the fear:

Becoming more comfortable with public speaking can be a wonderful breakthrough in a person’s life, and every effort should be taken to get in control of your fears as it will positively affect your confidence going forward.

Some people will try to use tricks to overcome their fear of speaking in public such as imagining the audience in their underpants or other silly things to make the situation less intimidating, but in all actuality this is not an effective way to cope with the phobia. The best way to overcome a fear of public speaking is to properly prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.

Working through your fears methodically and with determination will provide you with the most effective means in which to conquer your fear. Instead of trying to rush through the task as quickly as possible, or detract attention from your speaking by using a lot of slides and other props, be completely prepared for your speaking engagement and overcome any anxieties by making sure you are confident in the material, well-practised, and focused on a positive outcome.

Understanding what attributes make for a good public speaker and working on those factors will not only prepare you for any upcoming speaking obligations but be an effective way to work through your fears and anxieties about speaking to a group. This will enable you to deal with your issues in a positive manner. In addition to this, there are also a number of breathing techniques that can be used to calm the nerves before you begin speaking, allowing you to speak more effectively.

Preparation:

Acknowledging your fear about speaking is the first and most important step for overcoming it. Once you have acknowledged that you struggle you can then start to implement techniques that will not only make you a more capable public speaker but will better equip you to positively deal with your fears once and for all. This will change your overall outlook on public speaking, allowing you to embrace the opportunity and achieve success.

Discussed below are some helpful tips to help you deal with the anxiety of speaking in public:

1) Face your fears

Accept that a fear of speaking is in fact an issue for you, and that you fully intend to work through it and put the fear behind you. Avoidance will never help you feel any better and it takes bravery to overcome any fear and move past it.

2) Learn from others

Watch carefully when given the opportunity to listen to other speakers, especially those who do it professionally. Many careers rely heavily on the ability to speak publically, including management positions, organisers, guest speakers, and teachers. Someone suffering with performance anxiety should take note, and learn what they can from watching these speakers, as they are often brilliant at it and can teach you a lot.

3) Know your material inside and out

Of course being unprepared for any task will bring with it a certain amount of fear and anxiety. Practice, practice and more practice can help in alleviating those fears. Make sure you know you’re speaking material inside and out – having your material well practiced, although not memorised, will give you the confidence and self-assurance you need to feel calm and relaxed about the task at hand. Knowing your material like the back of your hand will allow you to think on your feet, roll with the punches, and deliver the best possible presentation or speech possible.

4) Talk to the mirror

Practice delivering a speech to your mirror. This face time will allow you to see how you come across to your audience, where emphasis should be put, and give you the handy advantage of self-awareness. This can help you avoid any embarrassing facial expressions or make you aware of any noticeable physical habits you may have.

5) Positive thinking

It is very important to always think positively, and visualise a successful outcome. The power of positive thinking is very real and if we invite negative thoughts into our mind we are inviting negativity into our worlds. This is also an effective technique during a speaking engagement. Think about something that makes you happy, it will keep you relaxed and in control of the moment.

Overcoming the fear of public speaking is important, as it will help you overcome limits in both your personal and professional life. Allowing a fear of any kind to limit you is something that can be overcome with perseverance and the right attitude.

Author: This guest post has been provided Katie Bassil from Flow Caritas, a leading UK recruiter for charity jobs in the not for profit industry.

Image Credit: Shutterstock


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